Every summer leading up to training camp buffalobills.com examines 25 of the more pertinent issues facing the team as they make their final preparations for the upcoming regular season. This year we wanted to focus on a few different areas that impact the team off the field in addition to what takes place on the field. From now until report day at training camp we'll address these subjects one at a time. Here now is the latest daily installment as we closely examine some of the answers the Buffalo Bills have to come up with between July 18 and the Sept. 7 opener at Chicago.
**Not much is expected from them by fans heading into camp. Their names - Bryce Brown, Stefan Charles, Michael Carter, Kevin Elliott, Seantrel Henderson, Caleb Holley, Kenny Ladler, and Ty Powell - are often buried deep on the depth chart, but coaches usually know what under the radar players have the chance to stand out and earn some notice in training camp when the onlookers in the stands might least expect it. Here now is a rundown of some of the names you should keep an eye on come training camp and why as we list the top sleepers for the Bills.
The running back acquired via trade on draft weekend has speed to burn and deceptive power to move the pile. With hands that make him capable of factoring into the receiving game as a target out of the backfield, Brown could prove to be a lot more eye-catching once the pads go on at camp.
He won't be a 'wow type' player in practice, but Charles doesn't allow many to move him off his spot at defensive tackle. With Alex Carrington no longer on the roster, Charles will have an opportunity to prove he’s capable of being a regular rotational DT behind the Pro Bowl starters.
He's part of a very deep group at cornerback, but Carter showed flashes of keen awareness and coverage ability. The former 2013 undrafted rookie didn't stick on a roster last year, but the Minnesota product is put together well and made a handful of plays. He'll need to make a lot more to make a case for the practice squad.
After a strong spring in 2013 the big receiver (6-3, 205) was making a strong case to be one of the last wideouts on the 53-man roster. A torn ACL in the Minnesota preseason game last summer however, took him out of the running. The receiving corps is deeper this time around and without any more practice squad eligibility it's a make or break camp for the underrated wideout. He must show the physical part of his game and win jump balls consistently to convince the coaches.
If Henderson can keep his head on straight and commit himself fully to an NFL career his physical talent will take care of the rest. He might be the most physically gifted player over 6-4 on the roster after Mario Williams. There's plenty of work to be done, but if he's on the fast track in training camp he could leapfrog some other tackles on the depth chart.
There are some players who just have a knack for succeeding at their position regardless of the competition. Holley has shown an ability to gain separation consistently in the spring practices to make plays. That must continue with the pads on facing press coverage for him to be part of the practice squad conversation.
Another player at a position where he could be caught up in a numbers game with four of the team's draft choices ahead of him on the depth chart. An athletic safety with strong football instincts, Ladler should make a strong case for the practice squad and possibly more with a strong camp and preseason.
He got some looks late in the regular season last year. Now seen as a potential backup ‘mike’ linebacker after playing outside in 2013 one wonders if plans for him are now different with Kiko Alonso likely out for the season. Though young at the position Powell finds the ball quickly and has the lateral agility to be versatile at linebacker.